A physician survey of perioperative neuraxial anesthesia management in patients on a direct oral anticoagulant
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Background: The perioperative management of patients taking a direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC) who require a high-bleed-risk surgery and/or neuraxial anesthesia is uncertain. We surveyed clinician practices relating to DOAC interruption and related perioperative management in patients having high-bleed-risk surgery with neuraxial anesthesia, and assess the suitability of a randomized trial of different perioperative DOAC management strategies. Methods: We surveyed members of the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, the Canadian Anesthesia Society and Thrombosis Canada. We developed four clinical scenarios involving DOAC-treated patients who required anticoagulant interruption for elective high-bleed-risk surgery. In three scenarios, patients were to receive neuraxial anesthesia, and in one scenario they were to receive general anesthesia. We also asked about the merit of a randomized trial to compare a 2-day versus longer (3- to 5-day) duration of DOAC interruption. Results: There were 399 survey respondents of whom 356 (89%) were anesthetists and 43 (11%) were medical specialists. The responses indicate uncertainty about the DOAC interruption interval for high-bleed-risk surgery and/or neuraxial anesthesia; anesthetists favor 3- to 5-day interruption whereas medical specialists favor 2-day interruption. Anesthetists were unwilling to proceed with neuraxial anesthesia in patients with a 2-day DOAC interruption interval, preferring to cancel the surgery or switch to general anesthesia. There is general agreement on the need for a randomized trial in this field to compare a 2-day and a 3- to 5-day DOAC interruption management strategy. Conclusions: There is variability in practices relating to the perioperative management of DOAC-treated patients who require a high-bleed-risk surgery with neuraxial anesthesia; this variability relates to the duration of DOAC interruption in such patients.